A Galway academic has condemned as “deeply unhelpful” the call by Northern Ireland Attorney General that no further prosecutions take place for crimes committed during the Troubles.
Prof Michael O’Flaherty, director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, and the former chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, was reacting to the view of John Larkin that there should be no further police or legal investigation into events prior to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
Prof O’Flaherty said Attorney General Larkin’s view defies “everything that has been learned internationally on healing the wounds of conflict”.
“Northern Ireland needs to confront its past, not run away from it,” he said. “Unconditional amnesties can never be countenanced, and, like any other post-conflict society, Northern Ireland needs a comprehensive programme of what is called ‘transitional justice’.
“There is not a day that goes by without the unresolved senses of neglect and injustice triggering societal problems. The lack of a truth recovery process means that tribal myths will continue to trump actual memory.”
He said Mr Larkin’s comments did have one merit though, in that they have “triggered media attention to a neglected aspect of the peace process”. However, he said the debate needs to move on to “how best to ensure truth, justice and healing for those whose lives were devastated by the Troubles”.